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Meri and Kody Brown of ‘Sister Wives’ talk their ‘not functional’ relationship

In the latest episode of the TLC show, Meri said she understands Christine's frustrations: “I’ve been in the same situation with Kody in the past."
Kody and Meri Brown just addressed the status of their relationship.
Kody and Meri Brown just addressed the status of their relationship.TLC

For quite some time, “Sister Wives” viewers have wondered what's really going on with Meri and Kody Brown’s marriage. After the last episode of Season 17 of the TLC show, they now have some pretty clear answers — provided by Meri and Kody themselves.

The duo, who wed in 1990 and share one child, have been part of a plural marriage for many years with three other women: Janelle, Christine and Robyn.

Meri has spoken out about their marital troubles on several occasions over the years, and in this week's episode, titled "Hang On With Me," her relationship (or lack thereof) with Kody is front and center as she discusses Christine and Kody's divorce with Robyn.

Although she's hurt that Christine didn't confide in her before she decided to leave Kody, Meri acknowledges that she understands what it's like to feel unstable in your marriage.

“I’ve been in the same situation with Kody in the past," she says.

The 51-year-old goes on to reference her 2015 catfishing scandal, where she entered an online relationship with a person she thought was a man, but ended up being a female fan.

In the past, Kody has admitted that he felt their marriage “dissolved” after the catfishing incident.

“It got really, really ugly and scary because I knew what I needed from Kody and I wasn’t getting it. He was like very, very, very distant with me and our relationship," she explains.

Meri says she asked Kody if they could take a break and if he could not stay in their house. She says her attempt for space ended up backfiring.

"I said, 'Can we just get through some of this stuff? Can we just take a break?" she said. "He has interpreted that as I kicked him out and he’s never come back."

While reflecting on Christine’s breakup with Kody, Meri admits that the situation feels “so familiar.”

“I’ve seen Kody give up on me and him,” she says.

Meanwhile, Kody has his own opinion on the matter, which he shares in a confessional interview.

“I didn’t give up on Meri. It just turned out that the relationship was essentially unstable. I just didn’t feel like it was tenable. It’s not a functional relationship. We can get along, but we can’t be together," he explains.

Back in her conversation with Robyn, Meri says that people often ask her why she stays part of the plural marriage dynamic if she no longer has a relationship with Kody.

"And I think on it and I pray on it and I meditate on it and I always come to peace with it," she says.

In response, Robyn says, "I’m just grateful that you’re sticking it out."

In her own confessional, Robyn speaks more candidly on the matter.

“As much as I would be devastated, I wouldn’t blame Meri if she got tired of hanging on and she decided to give up,” she says.

Meri was Kody's first wife. The couple legally married in 1990. When his fourth wife Robyn, came into the picture, Kody asked Meri to divorce him so he could legally marry Robyn and adopt her three children from a previous marriage.

Afterwards, Kody and Meri considered themselves "spiritually married," a status he also shared with second wife Janelle and third wife Christine until Christine announced that she was leaving him in 2021.

Despite their strained relationship, Meri seems committed to being part of the plural family and explains why in a confessional interview.

“When I married Kody it wasn’t just because I loved him. I felt like I had a confirmation from God that I was supposed to be married to Kody and I still feel like that," she says.

At the end of the day, Meri still believes in the concept of plural marriage.

"I will never say that the problem within our family is plural marriage. I believe that each and every one of us has the capacity for greatness and has a capacity to work through this stuff," she says.

Kody, meanwhile, has voiced doubts about polygamy this season.

“It’s a weird thing to be getting left. It’s made me question getting into plural marriage. It’s made me question my faith, and especially question my religion,” he says in a confessional. “The message that we had to the world about functional polygamy seems so dysfunctional now.”